Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Full and Whole with Broken and Missing Pieces

I woke up this morning from a dream. I was lying on my back in the ocean listening for my girls and all I heard was silence. I was in the water looking up at the sky. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the sea was calm and quiet. I was content except for the silence. I kept listening hard, closing my eyes to listen, but heard nothing. Then I woke up.

When I opened my eyes I put my hand on my aching heart.

I wish you were here sweet girls. I wish I could hear your voices.

These are the confessions I make daily. These are the things I release so I can grieve them and find peace. When the longings grip me I give them a voice, even if that voice is one only my heart can hear, so healing can replace the longing and I can go on living the best life I can.

I wish I had more time with you.

I wish I could watch you grow and see who you would have become.

I wish I had your artwork on the refrigerator. 

I wish I could give you kisses and hugs.

I wish…

I wish …

I wish…

Every morning another wish.

Every morning another choice to heal.

Every morning another conversation with God to give me the strength to press on until everything gets put right again and for comfort in the meantime. This life isn’t all there is and thank God for that, but I still need hope and hugs and a way through because the pain isn’t less real just because Heaven is real.

When I put my hands over my heart I can feel the empty space inside, the two little Aubrey and Ellie shaped holes that remain since their deathes. I feel their absence, even in my dreams, when I listen for them and hear nothing except my own breath.

I have not filled these spaces and I never will, yet I live with a full heart. This is how I know I’m healing. I have fullness despite the empty spaces, wholeness despite what is missing, and peace despite longing. This duality is what makes healing from grief possible.

Joy and sadness can coexist.

From ashes can incense rise.

Healing is not the result of undoing all the pain but choosing how to respond to it. Your circumstances don’t have to change for our heart to find the healing it desperately seeks. We can choose fullness without having every nook and cranny filled; we can choose wholeness without every piece of the puzzle.

The human heart is remarkably fragile but also immeasurably resilient. And resilience is our choice, not our luck. Broken hearts still beat. Hearts with holes and dents and scars beat powerfully. My heart is stronger than it has ever been. And I wear it proudly on my sleeve, holes and all, because, honestly, it is a miracle.  It isn’t a gaping, hemorrhaging wound anymore. It is an always healing, ever-stronger, honest badge of the choice I made to heal. As long as my heart still beats I’m seeing my healing to the end without guilt or apology.

When my hand goes over my heart in the morning and I give my never-coming-true wishes a voice, my heart keeps beating. It doesn’t die with the pain. It beats again and again and again, stronger each time. It’s another chance and another and another to get up and live full and whole with broken and missing pieces.

That is my choice. Morning after morning. Day after day. Night after night.





I choose life, abundant life, with every beat of my less than whole, missing a few pieces heart.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Heal by Choice Retreats

 A few of you may already know that recently I started Heal by Choice, an organization dedicated to helping people find healing from grief and loss of all kinds. As the mother of two sweet baby girls in heaven, I am well acquainted with grief. I am also grateful to be able to sincerely say I am well acquainted with healing too.

Healing is possible if you choose it. I'm the living proof.

My last six years of healing have not been walked out in a straight line though. The healing that has taken place in my heart, which can not be understated given the depth of my sorrow, follows a line that looks like a mutual fund graph before the recession.  It is full of peaks and valleys inching ever higher slowly but surely.

It started out pretty rough for me. I'm an intense personality anyway so I approached my grief like I do most everything in life- ALL IN. Then I got so emotionally exhausted I bailed. ALL OUT is where I stayed for a while until I learned how to resolve my grief. Before understanding what resolving grief meant I was trying to beat my grief into submission. I hated my pain and I just wanted it to stop. I now know that resolution is the only thing that cultivates lasting relief. Discovering how to make emotionally complete what has been left incomplete changed my healing journey. It can change yours too.

I didn't just give it time. I used time and invested wisely into my heart so that I'd reap real healing, not just temporary relief.  My healing is not yet complete, fragments of my grief still rise to the surface and have to be resolved, but that doesn't make the healing I've experience thus far any less real. I'd like to think of my heart as a work in progress. All our hearts are a work in progress. That is what being human is about.

The problem is, healing, although ALWAYS POSSIBLE, can be difficult, confusing, and lonely. I feel like I've learned a lot the hard way and want to, if at all possible, help others avoid the Grief School of Hard Knocks I attended on my healing journey.

That is why I founded Heal By Choice. I want to help. I want to be a clear voice in the murky pain that is grief. I want to be a supportive and tender ally. I want to offer true, practical advice that cultivates deep and lasting heart-healing. I want to stand against the myths, misinformation, wallowing, stagnation, entrapment, and peer pressure that occurs in the grief support communities we seek for help and find little if any. I want to be a gentle teacher to a society that doesn't understand grief and lead by compassionate example to foster change. I want to wear my own healing heart on my sleeve for all the world to see and not be ashamed to choose healing today and everyday for the rest of my life.

Heal By Choice is taking shape a little more everyday. I've been working hard developing workshops, ebooks, videos, curriculum, and resources that support real healing and it's all generating positive feedback.

That is why I am so excited to announce Heal By Choice Retreat!

Heal by Choice's inaugural retreat will take place November 6th-9th, 2014 in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley of California. It is an intimate healing retreat for women seeking care and comfort for their hearts after the death of a child.  Heal By Choice Retreat is a safe place to share your story, connect with other women, and learn valuable tools and insights you can use for a lifetime to not just survive, but thrive, after a child dies.

This four day, three night all-inclusive retreat combines grief recovery workshops, daily yoga, trail walks, and a Teamotions tea tasting with healthy meals, special guests, and friendships to support your healing journey.

The Heal by Choice Retreat will be led by me and Crystal Tenpenny of Teamotions with special guests Carrie Pascual of The STILL Project and singer and songwriter Alisa Turner.

I've also decided to pour my  heart into not just one, but a series of healing retreats that focus on learning the skills and tools necessary to recover from grief and loss of all kinds. Grief is a part of life, but unfortunately most of us have not been taught the skills necessary to resolve grief and find healing.  This is not something we should be ashamed of but proactive about. Let's learn how to tend to our hearts, build supportive relationships, and foster hope and healing that lasts. Let's refuse to believe that some things are impossible to get over. Let's choose healing and change our own lives!

Please visit my website www.HealByChoice.com or www.HealByChoiceRetreat.com to learn more (and watch our short video while you are there!).  If you'd like to continue to receive information about this or future Heal By Choice retreats please join our Heal By Choice Retreat email list HERE.  Also, I invite you to like my Facebook pages Heal by Choice and Teamotions as well as the facebook pages of STILL Project and Alisa Turner.

Thank you again for beginning yet another new journey with me!
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